- 01 Oct
Gov. Larry Hogan Sept. 29 proclaimed October as Maryland Horse Month, recognizing the many historic, recreational, therapeutic, and economic contributions made by the state’s horse industry.
This year marks the first time all of Maryland’s premiere equestrian sporting events, including the Preakness Stakes, are held in the same month due to scheduling changes in response to COVID-19.
“Maryland has historically led the nation in creating and growing innovative equestrian-related programs, from forming the first sporting organization in the colonies, the Maryland Jockey Club in 1743, to hosting the Maryland 5 Star, one of only seven events of this kind in the world,” Hogan said. “Maryland Horse Month will showcase the depth and breadth of the industry’s impact on our history, heritage, and culture.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Sept. 28 issued an amended executive order that allows racetracks to reopen to patrons subject to applicable local orders, state Department of Health directives on COVID-19 mitigation, and capacity limitations.
The order, which is effective immediately, follows the reopening of casinos and off-track betting facilities in late June. Live racing commenced at Laurel Park May 30 after a more than two-month shutdown but the facility has remained closed to the public with the exception of racehorse owners.
The executive order lists Laurel, Pimlico Race Course, the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, Fair Hill Races, Rosecroft Raceway and Casino at Ocean Downs as eligible to open to the public.
Maryland Racing Commission Chairman Michael Algeo announced at a Sept. 24 meeting that it would be his last in the role of chairman, but that he will remain a member of the commission.
Algeo said Emmet Davitt, appointed to the MRC by Gov. Larry Hogan in February of this year, would take over as chairman. Davitt is a former state prosecutor who stepped down in late 2019 after almost 10 years on the job.
Algeo, a former associate judge for Montgomery County Circuit Court, was appointed in December 2016 along with businessman and racehorse owner Konrad Wayson, who also was reappointed to a four-year term on the MRC.
Laurel Park will be closed for training Wednesday, Sept. 23 and Thursday, Sept. 24 for maintenance work on a small portion of the dirt surface, the Maryland Jockey Club said.
The goal was to reopen for training Sept. 24, but MJC said the project is not yet complete and would take addtional time to complete. MJC said would provide further updates as they come available.
The track maintenance crew was working on an area near the five-eighths pole on the main track, MJC President Sal Sinatra said. The work is necessary for health and safety reasons and to prevent a larger issue from developing later.
Track Superintendent Chris Bosley said he was on his way back from Pimlico Race Course, which begins its meet Sept. 24, to oversee the Laurel project. He said his crew noticed that the area in question, which had been repaired before, felt differently the morning of Sept. 22.
“It’s an area about five to six feet off the rail,” Bosley said. “It’s possible the patch didn’t take well with all the rain we’ve had, so we’ll go ahead and look at it to make sure it’s right. I always err on the side of caution.”
The nine starter allowance events that make up the $400,000 Claiming Crown Preview Oct. 2 at Pimlico Race Course will each carry the 30% owner bonus for Maryland-breds typically awarded for non-stakes at Maryland racetracks.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Board of Directors on Sept.15 discussed the Claiming Crown Preview races, which are listed in the Pimlico condition book as starter allowances. The 30% owner bonus designation is not listed in the condition book. The MTHA Board then voted unanimously to pay the bonuses based on purse earnings by Maryland-bred horses that finish first, second, or third.